Monday, March 7, 2011

FUN 21

Happy New Yearphoto © 2008 woodley wonderworks | more info (via: Wylio)

I wanted to share a couple of really cool ideas that I’ve heard from school districts in the last week. It seems that many people are really getting on the Curriculum 21 Train and creating new forms of instruction, assessment, and design. These teachers I’m describing here are great role models for making a 21st Century difference! They are implementing relevant, authentic, collaborative, and creative ideas that are engaging and motivating their students - launching them into an orbit beyond their boxes!

The first FUN 21 idea comes from a Science Teacher in Western New York who was doing a research project on Space. The traditional mode would have been for the kids to look at teacher-selected resources, decide which ones they would use, and write a research paper around their findings.

The new FUN 21 model was for the kids to collect their own resources in a collaborative Web 2.0 tool called All of the students contributed resources (and made themselves accountable to each other in the process as they made their decisions!). You can see their original document here:

Next, they sorted and organized their resources into a LiveBinder so that they had quick access as well as a visual representation of their resources. You can see the student created LiveBinder here:

Now that their information is selected and organized, they will use their information to create comic books online, which they will then publish through a web service like and add the REAL book to their classroom library! (Note that some of their products will be available in the LiveBinder shortly!) Awesome, awesome idea!

The second FUN 21 idea is from a school system in Montana.

This school district is working on a technology and communications plan for all of their stakeholders. I was reading through the proposed plan and saw a little light shining out in one of their ideas.

They are proposing “workshops” for their students AND parents: after school times for additional instruction that students and parents can CHOOSE to participate in. Part of this plan includes the district wide usage and integration of social technologies such as Skype, Twitter, Social Bookmarking, Google Docs, Edmodo, etc.

This is innovative. This is valuing the instruction on a brand new level and evening the playing field for these students. In a conversation with one of the teachers in this district, there are conversations around considering which kids will be able to stay after, perhaps some weekend events, additional busing, and parent support and participation.

There is a lot of heat on the Education world right, but there are also a lot of bright spots. It’s those creative and innovative folks in our school system that we really need to focus on--and replicate what they are bringing to our new educational order. It may be hard to see with what is in the news right, but we really are on the brink of an “awesome” we’ve never seen before!

Kudos to these two school systems! Excellent ideas!

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